Friday, February 24, 2012

Reader Question: What things helped you get through those first few weeks with a baby?

This question is brought to you by Linnea, or LE Bean, which is actually pronounced Ellie (L.E.) Bean and not Le Bean (WHO KNEW?!!). The damn hippo on her blog, while adorable, breaks my work computer on the regular, or I would have fun blog factoids here. In real life, she is hilarious, dramatic (in a good, theatrical kind of way, not in an angsty teen kind of way), and lots of fun. Go offer her words of encouragement, as she is expecting a baby bean in a couple of months!

Oh, Linnea. Linnea, Linnea, Linnea. Are you SURE you want to ask this question? REALLY SURE??? There is nothing, I repeat, NOTHING that a mommyblogger (or a blogger who also happens to be a mommy, if you find that label revolting) likes more than to word vomit assvice all over you mothers to be. And I am, quite possibly, the WORST at this. I have baby gear lists, hospital packing lists, second baby lists, required reading lists, tips for birthing, tips for your hospital stay, tips for shit to steal DURING your hospital stay, tips for your maternity leave, breastfeeding tips, solid feeding tips, floor feeding tips, THE LIST GOES ON AND ON. And you barely have to prompt me and I will EXPLODE from the excitement of being able to impart all of this knowledge on you.

But you’re not here to stop me, so HERE I GO. This is shit that worked for me, it might not work for you, we are all special and unique mothers with special and unique babies, blah de blah de blah.

In order to show some restraint, I am going to limit my response to five pieces of assvice and five things to purchase. This is me SHOWING RESTRAINT, Jesus.


1) Make sure you understand your hospital’s policy (and have thought through your position) on things like rooming in with baby bean, where your hub sleeps, whether or not he can shower there, how long they let you keep your preshus newborn and snuggle and nurse or whatever before stealing her away for HOURS for that first never-ending nursery trip, how long and how often they will continue to steal her away during your stay. These are all things that I wouldn’t have known to ask on the tour, but it would have made my first couple of days with the baby much more enjoyable if I had known all of the expectations going in.

2) Watch (borrow or get from library, do not buy) Happiest Baby on the Block, and make sure you include J. It may or may not work with your child, but if it does? Totally worth your 20 minute time investment. I am not even joking, Justin’s eyes welled up with tears after we watched it, and he said something to the effect of “This is the first time I feel like I will know what to do with the baby.” Also, it seems like a lot of dudes get into the whole swaddling thing, especially if you are the sole milk provider and they are looking for ways to help. I think it appeals to their MacGuyver instinct or something, as most of the swaddles are overly complicated. We swaddled the shit out of both girls, but the 5 S’s in general worked best on Adriana.

3) Making babies makes you hungry (especially if you are breastfeeding, you will want to eat ALL THE THINGS), and hospital food sucks. A well fed mama is a happy mama, so make sure someone is in charge of bringing you something delicious to eat after birthin’. My brother and SIL have brought me fried chicken for both babies, and those meals will be the ones I remember when I am on my deathbed. Relatedly, the best present I got when I was in the hospital was a GIANT ziplock bag full of homemade cookies (if you are visiting a new mom in the hospital? DO THIS). Yum. If you can coerce someone to be the cookie-bringer, that’s awesome too. Finally, I put my mom in charge of stocking my house upon my arrival with stuff like fruit and veggie platters, lunch meat platters, etc. You want tons of healthyish stuff that’s easy to eat one-handed while snuggling or nursing a baby, and if you aren’t the one who has to procure or prepare it, even better.

4) I feel like this might be too late for you, but maybe not? The best thing I did on my registry was include all of my car seat needs. We registered for 2 bases, the infant seat, AND 2 of the next car seat up. Excessive? Maybe. Did people think I was an asshole? Probably. But people pooled together on items we ACTUALLY NEEDED, no matter what. Your kid is allowed to leave the hospital stark naked, but is not allowed to leave without a carseat.

5) Do whatever you need to do to maximize sleep. You and your significant other are much better parents if you are well rested! For us, this means co-sleeping for mom and baby (something I never thought I’d do), with dad in a different room (also something I never thought I’d agree to, but it's not like he lactates), a white noise machine, and lots of sleeping when the baby sleeps. The girls also spent a lot of time sleeping in the swing with me sleeping on the couch.

Things, things, and more things:

1) Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper, for reason #5 listed above. And because Megan’s post from a funeral director’s standpoint is scary. All the convenience of co-sleeping without having to actually, you know, share your bed. Although there is some snoozing during side-lying nursing time (BEST POSITION EVER)(especially now that I figured out I can nurse the baby from both boobs without flipping sides)(genius!)

2) Swaddle Me for when the baby is little, Miracle Blanket for when they are bigger and can bust through the velcro like a baby Houdini, for reason #2 above. 2 of each, in case of poops.

3) For a first time baby, I definitely recommend the ItzBeen Timer or some sort of smart phone app that does the same thing. Also, did you know there are apps to time your contractions? Yay, technology! Anyway, the ItzBeen was never far from our reach when Adriana was a wee one. We were so dang TIRED we couldn’t remember exactly when she last ate, slept, or was changed, or what side I last nursed her on (although, some people use hair bands on the wrist of that side, which is also genius). The ItzBeen took the guessing out of parenting for us. Kid cries…Which timer has the biggest number? Start there. Works best for people who suck at tracking things on pen and paper and just want to know the most recent information. Parenting by triage.

4) Definitely a swing. I know some babies don’t like them, but it was a LIFESAVER for us. We had the Fisher Price My Little Lamb swing. I say had because Lucy’s chubby butt (16.5 pounds) actually burnt out the motor this week, so it’s dunzo. It SAYS it’s good up to 25 lbs, but one year of frequent use between both girls was too much. I’d recommend the My Little Lamb for maximum cuteness, but one with a wall adapter is probably much more practical. It uses D batteries like gangbusters.

5) I was trying to think of things that are essential for those first few weeks, as the question stated, and the only thing we haven’t covered is stuff for your lady bits. Tucks pads, giant maxi pads, dermoplast, stool softeners, breast pads, nipple cream, black underwear and black yoga pants. Not sure why you need those things? Google is your friend. Or email me. Procure all of this in advance of childbirth, so no one is running around at the last minute.

Note that I have not posted about breastfeeding assvice, as I can’t remember if it applies to Linnea. I have SO MUCH SHIT to say about that, I’m saving it for its own post. That way I can totally break my own rule about 5 things.

Here is a picture of me and Adriana, camped out on the couch in a mound of pillows and blankets with tons of baby paraphernalia all the fuck over the place. Consider getting a little caddy to take stuff from room to room. Or a wheelbarrow.

I would also be lying if I didn’t mention that I got lots of help in the form of one husband. My FAVORITE, FAVORITE thing about our marriage is that we agreed from the get go that it was important to us, no matter the financial consequences, to do this baby thing together. Justin took off 6 weeks with Adriana, and 2 months with Lucia. SO HELPFUL. Even if that help sometimes looked like this:

Look at Adriana's dark hair!!! Thought for sure she had my hair, but alas, it all fell out and (sloooooooowly) grew back in a golden brown color. Weird.


Go ahead and populate the comment section with your own assvice and product recommendations for Linnea. SHE ASKED FOR IT!


Heather said...

Kleenex ... and the realization that you're going to bat-shit crazy for a few weeks in there. Roller coaster hormones are the devil.

Also, take the help people offer. If a friend or family member offers to watch the baby for an hour while you sleep, DO IT. They can wake you if the baby needs you. I had a really hard time doing this at first but I always felt so much better with even 20 minutes of sleep under my belt.

ps --- love the pic of Justin playing video games and hold the babe. Hey, whatever works!

Saly said...

I agree about getting a swing you can plug in. Bud and Lucy had one with batteries, and good lord! We bought a new one when Liv was born, and made sure it plugged in. It was the Fisher Price Rainforest one, and we liked that it went from side to side and front to back. It was an awesome swing.

Here is my assvice: Don't make your husband spend every waking minute with you in the hospital. If he wants to stay, that's great--let him, by all means. But I found that giving Hub an out, to go home and get some rest--even though he really felt obligated to stay--worked out well. We'd both been up for nearly 24 hours by the time Bud was born and I was stitched up and in a room etc. I knew I'd be interrupted a million times. A rested Hub is a more helpful and agreeable Hub.

And OH! (I know, Laura, this is a book) I will for the rest of my life remember the chicken salad sandwich the hospital staff brought me to eat while the were stitching me up after Bud was born. It was the best sandwich I EVER ate. I am one of those freaks who really enjoys hospital food anyway...but I loved that sandwich, and could have kissed the nurse who brought it to me.

Laura Diniwilk said...

YES at what Saly said. For some reason, no one told us the chair pulled out (and we didn't figure it out on our own), so J was in my bed half the time and neither of us got rest. Second kid, he went home at like 11 pm and came back at 6 am and it was FINE. But no one would have talked us out of it first time around :)

Erin said...

Surprisingly, the two things that got me through most were not baby items. I could not have survived without my Kindle and the Netflix app.

If you're nursing, you'll spend a LOT of time sitting there doing nothing (I imagine this is also true if you're bottle-feeding, and then the Kindle will be particularly important as you'll only have the one free hand), so you will want reading material and stuff to watch on TV. I used my iPhone's Netflix app a lot, as I was too lazy to go downstairs to use the Xbox's app during those middle-of-the-night feedings. I made it through all of 30 Rock and Sons of Anarchy thanks to Netflix streaming.

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

Those photos are adorable! No advice here (no kids either) but this was super interesting to read!

Jessica said...

Actually, I like the food at my hospital! I go to town and order tons and tons of food at each meal (the nurses told me to, as you can only get three meals a day, so if you want snacks you just order them at a meal and save them). Also, the hospital gave me tons of pads, tucks, and dermoplast. I never used up what they gave me, let alone started in on my own supply.

For timing, I have the "BabyTimer" app on my iPad and it is the BEST. You can track diaper changes, feedings, pumpings, and sleep and then it makes charts of your data if you want:) I loved being able to see, for example, how many diapers we used in a month or how much milk I get at an average pumping session.

LE Bean said...

This is perfect! Exactly what I wanted! We got an Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper from my SIL (now to figure out how to set it up...) and just started reading Happiest Baby on the Block (A shower gift).

Bookmarking this page for later when I lose my mind & forget everything.


Wiz said...

While, this may sound like a downer, I always tell new moms, that you are going to cry...A LOT....over anything and nothing. Hormones dont mess around. Its COMPLETELY normal! And you will feel like yourself again soon!

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